What Causes Circuit Breakers to Trip? 4 Reasons Why

What Causes Circuit Breakers to Trip? 4 Reasons Why

Every circuit is connected to a breaker, a device that keeps the electrical circuit safe in the event of an electrical fault. An electrical fault occurs when there is an interruption to the electrical current. A common example is when too many large appliances are plugged in at once. When this happens, the breaker shuts off that particular circuit to “contain” the electricity. If you’re wondering why your circuit breaker keeps tripping, we’ve broken down a few common causes below:

#1 Circuit overload

There’s a limit to the amount of electricity that can pass via each circuit. A circuit overload occurs when the electricity that’s needed from a particular circuit exceeds its capacity. In other words, it can overload when you want it to provide more electricity than it can handle. An example is when you want to plug in a new appliance that needs 15 amps into a circuit that is currently using 20 amps. Breakers can detect when the circuit’s capacity is exceeded, triggering it to trip.

#2 Short circuit

This is another common cause of circuit breaker trips. A short circuit can occur when a "hot" wire converges with a "neutral wire", leading to an excess of electrical current within that circuit. Since your circuit can’t handle the heat produced, it will shut itself off to prevent a fire. Short circuits can be caused by a number of reasons, but the most common culprits are loose connections and poor wiring. With that said, the best solution would be to get an electrician, such as Beeson Mechanical Service, to upgrade your home's wiring and add more circuits.

#3 Ground fault

When the electricity doesn’t go where it’s supposed to, it can trigger a ground fault. This can happen when a “hot” wire touches a “ground” wire or any other grounded component (such as the metal case that’s connected to the ground wire). When your breaker notices the rapid increase in electricity, it will trip to protect that particular circuit.

#4 Arc fault

One of the most serious culprits as to why a circuit breaker can trip is an arc fault. This can happen when corroded or loose wires produce sparks that can reach up to 35,000°F. This puts your property at risk of a fire. You’ll be able to tell if an arc fault caused the breaker to trip if you notice a hissing sound around one of the outlets. If this happens, call an electrician pronto.

What can you do to stop circuit breaker trips?

If your circuit breaker trips, consider it a warning that your home’s wiring may need to be checked. Breaker trips may be a sign of a more serious problem that only an electrician can diagnose. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, set that part of you aside as you may only end up putting your property in more danger. Schedule an inspection with Beeson Mechanical Service today, at 317-535-9338 to find out what you can do to fix circuit breaker trips.